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As Genocide continues, so do we

By Anya Bergman

Section: News

September 22, 2006

We are all here because everybody is fed up in watching no action on Darfur, while we have been watching rolling genocide, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright said as she spoke from the stage at Sundays rally in New York City to help end the Genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Albrights statement echoed the sentiment of the thousands of demonstrators who came to Central Park to show their support.
Numerous groups traveled from universities across the nation to emphasize the need to act now to stop the crisis. They were joined by other activist groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights First, along with many religious groups and countless other individuals who were unaffiliated with a particular delegation. The focus of the rally was to urge the United Nations to send an active peacekeeping force to this troubled region in Sudan, hoping the UN would reverse its current position, which is not to send in troops.

Peacekeepers need to be sent in, the [UN] needs to enforce sanctions to allow Peacekeepers, said one college student at the rally, Yeshiva University Freshman Yoni Brander.

Those who attended the rally believe that demonstrations of this size really can make an impact and change policy. Many agreed that it is important to come together to be able to make changes.

I think that Americans need to show our support for the Darfurians, and to show our elected officials how many people really do care about the issue, said 13 year-old Summer Gray. She added that, [with] enough people we can invoke change and push Washington to do something about it, because Bush has [not] done anything about it.

Others like Brander agreed that it is very significant to see so many people joining together for a common cause. [The rally] has allowed a whole bunch of people to come together. It empowers the people who have already been speaking out to continue and it empowers people who have been activists since the beginning, he said.

Brandeis Junior Shulie Eisen added that, [t]he majority of people who went to the rally from Brandeis were freshman, which is exciting, in that it will bring new blood, and new creative ideas into how we as students work to achieve the goal of ending genocide.

Some activists at the rally believed that in addition to motivating people who have been fighting for the cause, it motivates people who arent necessarily at the rally – that their voices can be heard and they can do something to stop the genocide. George Washington University Freshman Jessica Schwartz continued, It is really important to show the general public and political officials that Americans are not going to sit back and watch another Genocide take place. The only way to get our voice heard is for us to keep coming together at demonstrations like this.”

And the rallies have proven to be successful in the past, and continue to have major accomplishments regarding the governments involvement in Darfur. The day after the rally in April, Bush sent top officials to enforce a peace agreement [in Sudan], said Brandeis STAND President Junior Matt Rogers. The rallies this past Sunday in New York also demonstrated the possibility to invoke change.

Eisen confirmed the news concerning the United States involvement in Darfur, saying that President Bush has just appointed a Special Presidential Envoy to Sudan, which is important both in having a U.S. representative on the ground mediating a potential peace, but also in showing Sudan that the U.S. is taking this issue extremely seriously and will not allow the Sudanese government to continue its genocidal acts against its own people.

Rogers reiterated that it is the governments who have the power to push the Sudanese government to make changes. Civilian protection does not come from activists. It comes from governments who are willing to step up to the plate, but we [activists] are the ones who can tell them to do it, Rogers said. Our goal right now is to have the U.S. government use full diplomatic means and get the rest of the world [to help] provide troops who will go into Darfur with or without invitation from the Sudanese government.

While the rallies were successful in beginning to accomplish this goal, some took issue with the location being in Central Park. The demonstration was originally scheduled to take place in front of United Nations Headquarters, which is symbolic to the message that was conveyed by the protest. It would have been more effective if we had been in front of the UN, said Brandeis Freshman Chao Huang.

Others like Phil Macombe, also a freshman at Brandeis, said that, it would have been better to march because the whole city would know we were there.

Eisen summed up the general feeling of the crowd gathered in Central Park on Sunday. Seeing pictures from those rallies [that took place on Sunday in other places] while we were at the one in N.Y. made me feel like the whole worldfelt that the crisis in Darfur has gone on long enough and that the whole world needs to work together to end it, she said.

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